How we Un-motivate our Teens


We make the mistake to think teens are unmotivated. We unfortunately have the wrong assumption about motivation.

People are not unmotivated. Everyone is motivated. We are just not motivated by the same things. 

When you look at your teenager’s behaviour, it’s easy to see that most of their time is spent on Snap Chat, Instagram, watching TV, sleeping in, hanging out with their friends and playing video games. 

Where one teen may be motivated to excel in sport or school, another is motivated to excel with followers, likes and streaks.


Motivation is an art

Everyone is motivated. We are just motivated by different things. 

Motivation is the desire or willingness for someone to do something. 

Motivating your teenager is an art of getting them to do what YOU want them to do, because THEY want to do it. How do we do that? We’ll talk about that in our next blog. For today let’s consider two main ways you might be unmotivating your teens.  

Fear and Threats

You use fear and threats. As parents we can manipulate our kid’s behaviours to get us what we want. 
We threaten, “If you don’t do your chores, you can’t see your friends.”

 The better way is to say, ‘When your chores are complete, then you can see your friends.”

This simple shift in your language makes a significant difference in motivating them! 

 If you’ve ever worked with a boss who yelled and threatened you, you know it’s hard to perform well. Fear and intimidation might be good motivators to get short term results, but once fear is removed, so is motivation. 

Overtime fear always demotivates people. Fear tears down trust and negatively impacts the relationship. Without trust there is no motivation. 



You bribe with promises and rewards. Remember shopping for groceries when your child was two and you said, “If you’re good I will get you a treat.”

Sure, they will be good. They’ll be good for the treat, not for the sake of being good. 

We can motivate our kids with money, slurpees, shopping, and more. These are helpful short-term motivations, but long term, they are the anti-motivation. When we always hand out external rewards to motivate others we cheapen the internal reward of satisfaction. 


We are all driven by internal satisfaction. 

I remember one time, yes ONE TIME, my daughter fully cleaned her room and did her laundry without being reminded or asked. And do you know what she said, “Oh it just feels so good to get things done!”

She felt the internal reward of doing something because she chose to, not because someone else told her she had to. She exercised her own personal power. This personal power offered a far greater reward than if she did it because of a promise waiting for her. 

So, if this is how we un-motivate our kids, where do we even begin to motivate them? We’ll talk about that next week. 

Committed to You! 

Kristine Rustand 


Kristine Rustand is a Master Health Coach with EmpowerWays. Everything we do is about empowering you to live a healthier, happier life. You can follow EmpowerWays on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to know how Health Coaching can help you live a healthier, happier life contact Kristine today.

**Blog was inspired from Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Podcast titled Motivating Your Team**